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Sermon illustrations

Resistance

The Embodiment of their Hopes

I have been reading Julian Jackson’s biography of Charles de Gaulle — it’s exceptional, so far — and I find myself meditating on a story Jackson tells near the beginning of the book. In June of 1940, which Marshal Petain announced that France had fallen, de Gaulle started making broadcasts from London insisting that France had not been defeated and there was still hope. Quickly he became the focus of hope for the French resistance…but nobody knew who he was. They weren’t sure what his name was or how he spelled it. One resister, an art historian named Agnès Humbert, wrote:

How bizarre it all is! Here we are, most of us on the wrong side of forty, careering along like students all fired up with passion and fervour, in the wake of a leader of whom we know absolutely nothing, of whom none of us has even seen a photograph. In the whole course of human history, has there ever been anything quite like it?

These resisters of the Nazi conquest didn’t know the first thing about de Gaulle, but he became the focus of their determination, the embodiment of their hopes. In light of this I’m inclined to reassess a famous statement of Churchill’s, which I had always thought false modesty: “It was a nation and race dwelling all around the globe that had the lion heart. I had the luck to be called upon to give the roar.” Which of course probably was false modesty; but it also may well have been a true statement.

Alan Jacobs, Snakes & Ladders (Newsletter), October 18, 2021

Facing Resistance in Leadership

Resistance. Internal resistance. Resistance is the key difference between management and leadership: Good management is usually met with a grateful response from those whom we manage. Leadership is often met with stubborn resistance from the very people we are called to lead. Management is about helping people get to where they want to go and accomplish what they want to accomplish.

Management is about taking care of the most important assets, opportunities, resources, plans, and especially, as one of my colleagues often reminds us, of the people entrusted to our care. Management, biblically speaking, is called stewardship. And stewardship is about taking care of what is most valuable and accomplishing together what all of us most want to get done.

Taken from Tempered Resilience: How Leaders Are Formed in the Crucible of Change by Tod E Bolsinger. Copyright (c) 2021 by Tod E Bolsinger. Published by InterVarsity Press, Downers Grove, IL. www.ivpress.com

 

Leaders Must Manage Resistance to Change

Humans are wired for stability and continuity, so we are deeply grateful for a good manager who keeps everything running well. But leading change is disruptive. And everything within us resists disruption.

When we are faced with change, we need leaders who can stand it when we resist the very thing we want and need, even to the point where we will turn on them, oppose them, sabotage them. According to the late Edwin Friedman, one of the critical attributes of a leader who is going to bring about a “renaissance” or renewal of deep change is “persistence in the face of resistance and downright rejection.”

Taken from Tempered Resilience: How Leaders Are Formed in the Crucible of Change by Tod E Bolsinger. Copyright (c) 2021 by Tod E Bolsinger. Published by InterVarsity Press, Downers Grove, IL. www.ivpress.com

 

Only the Dead Go with the Flow

By illustration, I have been told that when a cow is born, she innately senses that her departure from her mother’s warm womb to a cold, scary, unknown world outside is upon her. In response, she will resist birth and try to stay in the womb. On the other hand, the absence of such resistance is often a sign of a stillborn calf.

Relating to our world of death, “going along” is a sign of death. Living fish swim against the stream. Only the dead go with the flow.

Subversive Sabbath: The Surprising Power of Rest in a Nonstop World, Baker Publishing Group, 2018, Location 156.